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Wednesday
Nov172010

Dems/GOP Elect Party Leaders

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been elected Democratic leader in the upcoming congress by a vote of 150-43. Pelosi defeated Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), a so-called "blue dog" Democrat, who said he expected to lose, but needed to ensure that moderate Democrats have a voice. "It wasn't about winning or losing this race, but truly making a difference within our caucus, to ensure that the moderates are heard within the caucus and that we have a seat at the table," Shuler said.

On the GOP side, John Boehner was elected Speaker-designate by unanimous voice vote. Boehner was nominated for Speaker by Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, who delivered a speech in support of Boehner. The nomination was seconded by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia and Congressman-elect Steve Stivers of Ohio.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

More Harm Than Good: Republican Leaders Voice Fears Over Fed Plan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republican leaders in the House and Senate Wednesday voiced concerns about the Federal Reserve’s new $600 billion monetary stimulus plan, known as “QE2,” short for “quantitative easing.”

In a letter to Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, top Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl and top House Republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor said the plan creates “significant uncertainty” about the strength of the dollar, “impairs U.S. trade relations,” and “erodes confidence in the economic outlook.”

“While intended to improve the short-term growth of the U.S. economy and help maintain a stable price level, such a measure introduces significant uncertainty regarding the future strength of the dollar and could result both in hard-to-control, long-term inflation and potentially generate artificial asset bubbles that could cause further economic disruptions,” the GOP lawmakers wrote to Bernanke.

Noting that the plan has already “generated increased criticism and action from other central banks and governments,” the lawmakers warned that “any action taken by our nation or foreign nations that impairs US trade relations at a time when we should be fighting global trade protection measures will only further harm the global economy and could delay recovery in the United States.”

“Perhaps most damaging, we believe that QE2 is giving the impression that the Federal Reserve will keep making new and different attempts to boost the short-term prospects for the economy,” they concluded. “Our long-term growth depends on restoring confidence and certainty in our fiscal, regulatory, and trade policies -- and not on government’s willingness to engage in additional stimulative measures. When asset prices increase due to anticipated Federal Reserve policy rather than economic fundamentals, it increases the potential for speculative action and erodes confidence in the economic outlook, making it more difficult to generate sustainable growth.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

Sarah Palin Is 'Engaged in the Internal Deliberations' About A Presidential Run

(Photo Courtesy - Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesNEW YORK) -- Sarah Palin has clarified for the first time in a newly-published interview that she is seriously considering a presidential run.

"I am," Palin told New York Times writer Robert Draper when asked if she was weighing a run in 2012. "I'm engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here."

In a personal profile to be published in the upcoming New York Times Magazine, Palin said her decision would involve "evaluating whether she could bring unique qualities to the table," admitting the biggest challenge would be proving her record.

"I know that a hurdle I would have to cross, that some other potential candidates wouldn't have to cross right out of the chute, is proving my record," the former Alaska governor told Draper. "That's the most frustrating thing for me -- the warped and perverted description of my record and what I've accomplished over the last two decades.

"It's been much more perplexing to me than where the lamestream media has wanted to go about my personal life. And other candidates haven't faced these criticisms the way I have."

Palin also addressed criticisms that, by avoiding the media, she is partially responsible for the public's perception of her. "I'm on television nearly every single day with reporters. ... Now granted, that's mainly through my job at Fox News, and I'm very proud to be associated with them, but I'm not avoiding anything or anybody.

"I'm on Facebook and Twitter. I'm out there. I want to talk about my record, though."

The 2008 vice presidential nominee also recognized that, "yes, the organization would have to change.…I'd have to bring in more people -- more people who are trustworthy."

Draper's story, The Palin Network, details the inner workings of the Palin political machine, which Draper described as a "guerrilla organization."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

New Congress Expected to Retain Old Leadership

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite an election that saw a wave of Republicans sweep the GOP into the House majority, when Congress convenes early next January both parties figure to closely resemble the current House leadership of the 111th Congress.

House Democrats and Republicans are meeting separately in private sessions Wednesday to elect their leaders for the 112th session of Congress.  The Democratic Caucus will meet at 10 a.m. while the House Republicans will meet at 1 p.m. to choose their leadership team.

Republicans are almost certain to elect their current top-two leaders to lead the GOP in the next session.  House Minority Leader John Boehner is expected to run unopposed as the next Speaker of the House while Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia is expected to be selected as Majority Leader.

The current Deputy Whip, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, stands to move up the GOP ranks to the third-ranking post in the Republican majority as House Majority Whip.  Republicans are also expected to choose Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling as the GOP Conference chairman, the party's fourth-ranking post being vacated by Rep. Mike Pence, who is not seeking reelection to the House Republican leadership.

Democrats will first elect the Democratic Caucus Chairman, who will then preside over the remainder of the caucus.  The current chairman is Connecticut Rep. John Larson who is expected to be re-elected to the post unopposed.

Next, House Democrats will elect the Democratic Leader, also known as minority leader.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi surprised many in the caucus by announcing early this month that she was running to remain the House's top Democrat.  Although Pelosi is expected to win that election easily, the minority leader post is expected to be the only contended post in the House Democratic leadership election.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

GOP Leaders Postpone White House Meeting

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House says a scheduled meeting this Thursday between President Obama and congressional leaders has been postponed at the request of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP House Minority Leader John Boehner.

The Republican leaders cited a scheduling conflict, and the White House agreed to shift the meeting to Nov. 30.

Some political observers wonder if the postponement was the GOP’s way of letting the president know they consider themselves in charge in the wake of midterm election results, which gave the Republicans control of the House and shrank the Democratic majority in the Senate.

The bipartisan meeting, when it does take place, will cover a wide-range of topics, including tax cuts, spending reductions, trade and the country’s energy policy.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov162010

Boehner Challenges Constitutionality of Health Reform Law

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner, R-Ohio, filed an amicus brief Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the health care law passed by Democrats earlier this year.

“ObamaCare is a job-killer, and our economy simply cannot afford this unprecedented, unconstitutional power grab by the federal government,” Boehner stated Tuesday evening. “That is why Republicans will continue standing with the American people and fighting to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with better solutions put forth in the Pledge to America to lower health care costs and protect American jobs.”

Boehner’s amicus brief was filed in support of a lawsuit brought by 20 state attorneys general and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the nation’s largest small business association. The brief seeks to overturn what Boehner says is a “government takeover of health care that is costing jobs, increasing costs, and jeopardizing coverage for millions of Americans.”

“I’m proud to join these states and the NFIB in their ongoing effort to overturn this job-killing health care law and protect American workers from its devastating impact,” Boehner said.

Republican aides privately speculate that Boehner could use the first bill of the next session of Congress to repeal health care.

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, asked Senate Republicans to join him in signing onto a similar amicus brief that outlined his argument against the constitutionality of the health care law. McConnell is expected to file the brief later this week.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Tuesday
Nov162010

Obama Pushes DREAM Act Immigration Reform for Lame-Duck Congress

Photo Courtesy - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Tuesday joined top Congressional Democrats in urging Congress to pass a small piece of immigration legislation known as the DREAM Act before it adjourns for the year.  The measure would give hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants a conditional path to legal residency.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has repeatedly promised a vote on the measure during the lame-duck session. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also expressed support for bringing a bill to the floor, although not until after Thanksgiving.

“This legislation has traditionally enjoyed support from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and would give young people who were brought as minors to the United States by their parents the opportunity to earn their citizenship by pursuing a college degree or through military service,” the White House said in a statement following the president’s closed-door meeting with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus this afternoon.

The DREAM Act would apply to immigrants younger than 36 years old who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children under the supervision of their parents and have maintained "good moral character," among other requirements.

The bill has had Republican co-sponsors in the years since it was first introduced in 2001. It was passed as part of a Senate immigration reform bill in 2006, although the package later failed in the House. In 2007, the DREAM Act was filibustered when it came up for an up-or-down vote.

“Passage of the DREAM Act is achievable right now,” said Gutierrez. “The policy of mass deportation is not working and is ripping apart communities and may only get worse under a Republican-controlled House.  We cannot squander this opportunity to save a million kids.”

Opponents of the measure say the bill is flawed and would unreasonably add legal workers to the workforce at a time when many Americans are out of jobs.

According to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, about two million of the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. could be eligible for legalization under the DREAM Act.

The group also estimates, however, that only 825,000 of those immigrants would ultimately take advantage of the law if it were enacted.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov162010

Senate Republicans Ban Earmarks; Will Democrats Follow?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republicans Tuesday took their war against government spending to a new level, voting behind closed doors to approve a moratorium on all congressional earmarks for two years.

The resolution, which is non-binding, is identical to the one approved by House Republicans in the current Congress and forbids Republicans from engaging in the practice of funneling federal tax dollars to pet projects in their home states.

House Democrats have restricted earmarks for private contractors but not outlawed them entirely.

Only Senate Democrats have yet to decide on whether they will impose any limits on earmarks, although at least two members -- Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and Colorado Sen. Mark Udall -- have said they want their caucus to follow suit.

A moratorium on earmarks throughout Congress would be a significant development and departure from what has become a common, if controversial, practice in recent years.

Congress approved 9,499 earmarked projects in fiscal year 2010 that totaled $15.9 billion, according to the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Earmarks account for less than one percent of overall federal spending.

The move by Republicans will also likely add pressure on President Obama, who has said he supports "cracking down on wasteful earmark spending, which we can't afford during these tough economic times."

But he has not called for eliminating the practice outright or threatened to veto bills that include earmarks.

President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform issued a report last week detailing ways to reduce the national debt by $4 trillion in the next 10 years, including an outright ban on all earmarks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov162010

Rep.-Elect Allen West: ‘You Have to’ Cut Defense; New Strategy Needed for Afghanistan

Photo Couresty - AllenWestforCongress dot com(WASHINGTON) -- The new class of GOP House freshmen is coming to Washington vowing to rethink government spending even in areas that Republicans have long held sacred -- and with an eye toward big changes on the national security front.

On Tuesday, Rep.-elect Allen West, R-Fla., a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, told ABC News that “you have to” subject Pentagon spending to cuts if the nation plans to seriously grapple with the budget deficit.

He also called for a new strategy in Afghanistan that focuses less on “nation-building” and more on confronting new threats.

On Afghanistan, West said, “We have to look at how we can be successful on the ground and these combat theaters of operation. The 21st-century battlefield is a totally different battlefield. We have to get away from occupation, nation-building style warfare. I think that our national security strategy should focus on denying the enemy sanctuary. Cyber warfare is going to become a huge part of this, the information operations aspect of it. And those are the type of things we have to look at.”

Based on his time as a military adviser in Afghanistan, West said, “I think we've lost focus on the enemy, and we've gotten too far focused on nation-building. And that is one of the critical things I want to look at.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Tuesday
Nov162010

NY & NJ Lawmakers Call on Senate to Pass 9/11 Health Bill

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Flanked by first responders and survivors of the 9/11 attacks, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and senators and representatives from New York and New Jersey called on the U.S. Senate to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

“This should not be a partisan fight,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said.  “We have an undeniable, moral obligation to provide these 9/11 heroes with all of the care that they need. It’s time to keep our promise to them and pass this bill in the U.S. Senate.”

The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed the House of Representatives in September largely along party lines, but with the support of 17 Republican representatives.  Gillibrand remarked that she expects all Democratic senators will vote for the bill and that she hopes it will pass before the end of the year.  President Obama has said he would sign the bill into law should it pass the U.S. Senate.

The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act would provide $7.4 billion dollars in aid to first responders and survivors of the World Trade Center attacks.  More than 30,000 responders and survivors have received medical care due to the exposure to toxins at Ground Zero.  These victims hail from all 50 states and 428 of the 435 congressional districts. 

The proposed legislation was named for James Zadroga, a New York City Police Department officer who was a first responder on September 11, 2001.  Zadroga died in 2006 from the respiratory disease he contracted while working at Ground Zero in the wake of the attacks.

Bloomberg and Gillibrand were joined by Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Peter King, Michael McMahon and Anthony Weiner and various labor union leaders.  Bloomberg, 9/11 survivors, first responders, and labor leaders spent the day lobbying key Republican senators to pass the bill.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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